Fantasy and Horror: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Seventeen year-old Ryn has three things in life – her family, the graveyard her family cares for, and the forest she explored with her father.  The other villagers avoid the dark of the forest, venturing when they must into the outskirts but never going far.

As a child, Ryn learned that the scariest forest things were the bone houses, dead who walk once the sun goes down. Her father, the grave digger who taught her the trade, showed her how to break them down with his ax.  She is carrying this weapon when, in the forest, she finds Ellis, a young map maker who is determined to make a name for himself even if it means journeying through the forest and toward the land of the fye.

Ryn saves him from a bone house and together they make their way to the village.  But the bone houses are traveling beyond the forest and make their way into the village itself.  Ryn and Ellis struggle to find out why the change and how they can stop the bone houses.

If you are interested in writing horror or fantasy, this is a book you need to read.  It works as fantasy because the story depends on fye magic and a kettle that can bring the dead to life.  When it is cracked, it no longer works as intended.  In this story the walking dead aren’t the result of a science experiment gone bad or a virus.  It is magic.

But the story also works as horror.  It is very atmospheric with walking skeletons coming out at night, lurking in the shadows of the forest, and the all pervading sense of dread that something horrible is going to happen when shadows grow long and the sun goes down.

The combination creates a multilayered story and strengthens its appeal.  Like a parfait, a cake, or a wafer cookie, the best stories have layers.  This is an excellent example of how to do it right.

–SueBE

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